Actor Sanjay Dutt as Durrani empire ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali. | Photo: Ashutosh Gowariker/Twitter
Actor Sanjay Dutt as Durrani empire ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali. | Photo: Ashutosh Gowariker/Twitter
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New Delhi: Fearing misrepresentation of former Afghan emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s upcoming Bollywood period drama Panipat, the Embassy of Afghanistan has expressed concerns to New Delhi and sought a meeting with Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar over the issue.

Starring actors Sanjay Dutt and Arjun Kapoor, Panipat is based on the Third Battle of Panipat between the Maratha Empire and the Durrani Empire in 1761 — one of the most significant events in Indian history.

The film’s trailer was released Wednesday, sparking concerns amid Afghan people about the misrepresentation of Abdali (played by Dutt), the founder of the modern Afghanistan, as a brutal ruler. Panipat is slated to release on 6 December.

Within hours of the trailer release, the Afghanistan Embassy in New Delhi wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs.

“Since the film is related to former Afghan emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali, any insensitive/distorted depiction of his character might provoke emotions of Afghans which could be unfairly exploited by others to adversely affect the trust and harmony that exists so well among the people of two countries,” the letter stated.

Considering the sensitivity of the issue, the letter asked the ministry to arrange a meeting between Tahir Qadiry, Charge d’ Affairs of the Embassy of Afghanistan, and Javadekar at the earliest to discuss the film.

“The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi the assurances of its highest consideration,” it said.

Sources in the government said India is likely to tell Afghan officials that the film is not funded or sponsored by the State in any way, and has been made by a private director in Bollywood.

However, the sources added, New Delhi is willing to take on board any concerns the Afghans show because of the important strategic partnership between India and Afghanistan.

Earlier, the culture department of the Embassy of Afghan had also written to the I&B ministry seeking information about the film.

Criticism from Afghanistan

The trailer of Panipat has garnered over 25 million views on YouTube since its release and is still trending on the platform. Many voices from Afghanistan have since spoken up against what they feel could be a misrepresentation of the Durrani emperor and Abdul Shah Abdali, a revered figure for them.

Afghanistan’s Pajhwok Afghan News quoted Tahir Qadiry as saying that the movie was yet to be released and its content was yet to be determined. He added that the embassy is in contact with Indian officials and has shared the Afghans’ concern with them.

The report also quoted Ajmal Alamzai, cultural attaché at the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi, as saying that he came to know about Panipat two years ago and launched an investigation in this regard.

“We have emailed the film director to share the scenario with us but he didn’t. We have tried several times to contact the director, but failed,” he was quoted as saying.

On Wednesday, former Afghanistan ambassador to India Shaida Abdali tweeted to actor Sanjay Dutt: “Historically, the Indian cinema has been extremely instrumental in strengthening the Indo-Afghan ties – I very much hope that the film “Panipat” has kept that fact in mind while dealing with this important episode of our shared history!”

In another tweet, he said, “Our glorious past, under the ages of Ahmad Shah Abdali remains the foundation of our future — to that end, “Abdali Foundation” is underway to re-visit & re-examine the great vision of Abdali towards a United, Peaceful and Prosperous Afghanistan – and the region!”

Another report in Afghan media quoted officials in the state-owned Afghan Film saying it is too early to have a judgement on Panipat.

Many Afghan social media users also criticised the film for being “biased” and displaying “Islamophobia”.

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9 Comments Share Your Views

9 COMMENTS

  1. What Abdali did is past history. If Afghans have declared him their founder then they should accept the history. Why feeling offended?!

  2. The fact is that Ahmad Shah Abdali won the war and in every war there is a collateral damage and off course plunder and demolition as well! Don’t forget that this happened many many years ago and back then it’s was quite normal to conquer a country and plunder! In modern days like now countries invade other countries and plunder their oil and wealth! Just an example is the Jammu Kashmir where the Indian army In modern days plunder ,torture and put a curfew on daily basis ! They still put thousand of people in jails without knowing where they are!So my brother Indians you guys are no better than Ahmad Shah Abdali !

    • This is what happened at the end of the battle, this was abdali’s generosity towards kaffer Hindus, written by Muslim historians.
      You can check for yourself.
      Siyar-ut-Mutakhirin says:[45]

      “ The unhappy prisoners were paraded in long lines, given a little parched grain and a drink of water, and beheaded… and the women and children who survived were driven off as slaves – twenty-two thousand, many of them of the highest rank in the land.
      Also 40,000 Maratha captives were killed in cold blood.
      Then abdali attacked mathura etc smashed several Hindu temples.
      If this is the father of the Afghanistan then what is happening today to them is karma.
      After all their self confessed father was a mass murderer and rapist.
      Certified by Muslim historians who wrote it all.
      What goes around comes around.
      And do not forget how 600,000 Hindus were hounded out of Kashmir by Muslims.
      Today you are known as “Peaceful” By the entire civilised world.
      Really ???

  3. People of Afghanistan should learn to cope with the real histiry and do not expect fictional movies like “Khud Gawah” to entertain them.

  4. The third battle of Panipat is a recorded historical event. Though Ahemad Shah Abdali is considered as “Baba-e- Afaghanistan” in his own country, in India he is viewed differently, more particularly in the state of Maharashtra. The director of the film, Ashutosh Gowariker is a Maharashtrian. He will always recall history, as it is recorded in Maratha memory and chronicles. It is a recorded history that Abdali invaded India seven times. In each invasion, he looted and killed people mercilessly. After the third battle of Panipat was lost by the Marathas, thousands innocent pilgrims including women and children, who accompanied the Maratha army were murdered mercilessly, many were enslaved and some were taken to Baluchistan where they were assimilated into the Baluch tribes. This is recorded history. In 1757, Abdali attacked Amritsar and desecrated the Golden Temple. But the Sikhs fought bravely against Abdali’s forces after the Battle of Panipat. In the infamous battle of Kup, faught in 1762, about 30000 non-combatant Sikhs were killed. This is recalled as the Sikh genocide by Abdali- the Vadda Ghalughara. But, subsequently, the Sikhs got better of him and prevented his invasions.

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